Ornette Coleman: Back and forth: Ornette Coleman on the Blue Note album review

Ornette Coleman revolutionized modern jazz with the six records he released on Atlantic Records between 1959 and 1961. Freeing improvisation from the limits of chord changes – a change accentuated by his omission of the piano, an instrument that had been an anchor in hard bop – the alto saxophonist pushed jazz into mercurial territory. His habit of letting his tone drift from the center, as he found the space between the notes, heightened the melodic spontaneity of the music. Producer Nesuhi Ertegun convinced Coleman to name his Atlantic debut The shape of jazz to come, a title that had a sense of prophecy. Indeed, a whole subsection of jazz would be named after free jazz, the 1961 album where Coleman encouraged two quartets to tangle. Pioneers at the time, Atlantic albums may sound relatively conventional to modern ears; many musicians inspired by Coleman’s sense of exploration continued to venture further. Such is the destiny of a pioneer: innovations are part of the common language.

Conversely, the six albums that Ornette Coleman made for Blue Note between 1965 and 1968 – two live sets, three studio sessions where he was leader and one where he was sideman – always sound unusual, surprising in their sound and their design. Much of their weirdness is that it took Coleman a while to reappear after the release. Ornette to tenor in 1962. Coleman retired from the limelight after winding down his contract with the Atlantic, exhausted not by the act of creation but by the nature of the recording industry. He spent those years in isolation, at the stake, seeking primal sound on his viola while teaching himself the trumpet and the violin.

Coleman’s work for Blue Note always carries a visceral jolt. Perhaps these experiments and exercises lack the gravitas of Coleman’s Atlantic records, but their strangeness is often invigorating, especially when heard as a separate body of work, as they are on Round trip: Ornette Coleman on Blue Note. The box set is part of Blue Note’s Tone Poet series of vinyl reissues, an all-analog line curated and produced by Joe Harley and mastered by Kevin Gray of Cohearent Audio. As the first box set in the Tone Poet series, Round trip is in keeping with the imprint’s emphasis on cult classics, rarities and curiosities – the kind of records Coleman released on the label.

Coleman shipped with the first classic, publishing both volumes In the “Golden Circle” of Stockholm, a live set recorded with his Ornette Coleman Trio in December 1965. Backed by bassist David Izenzon and drummer Charles Moffett, Coleman sounds here vigorous and unpredictable, his tone deeper and more incisive than during the Atlantic sessions three years ago. years at the time of its registration. The first volume of In the “Golden Circle” of Stockholm bristles with energy; the rhythm section provides a propulsive kick that allows the saxophonist to spin between melodic phrases and our explorations. In the second set, Coleman introduces his rudimentary trumpet and violin on “Snowflakes and Sunshine”, and, coming after the bloody first set, the effect remains shocking: by using these instruments as noisemakers, he aims to destabilize, and he succeeds. .

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